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St. Charles County officials continue talks with potential Family Arena buyer

St. Charles County officials are still considering selling the Family Arena, even though there were no takers last month when the county sought requests for proposals [RFPs]  from anyone willing to purchase the property.

Now, the county plans to negotiate and discuss a purchase agreement with an unidentified party that expressed an interest in the county’s multi-purpose event venue in early July. That request prompted the need to call for RFPs.

“We are still working with the initial party,” said Bob Schnur, the county’s finance director who has managed the arena property operations the last three years. He said the next step for the county is to develop a purchase agreement; however, he did not identify the party making the offer or how much they were offering.

“We believe it’s a legitimate offer,” Schnur said. “We’ll see how it goes with the purchase agreement. That’s the next step. How long that takes will drive when we would actually bring some sort of legislation to the council.”  He added that there is no time limit on discussions, that the county is under no obligation to accept any offer for the arena and that the County Council would have to approve any purchase agreement.

County Executive Steve Ehlmann told the council at its July 9 meeting that the unidentified party had made an unsolicited offer which prompted the county to seek proposals to purchase the property.

“We will make a decision if that is in the best interest of the people of St. Charles County to sell or not to sell,” Ehlmann said at the time.

Ehlmann said in an interview that the arena has become “less of a burden” financially with Schnur managing its operations.

The $27 million Family Arena, funded by bonds, was built with the idea originally that a private operator would run; however, as early as 2001, the county took over the direct operation after a private contractor was unsuccessful.

The 10,000-seat Family Arena at 2002 Arena Parkway with 3,500 parking spaces was built in 1999 at a time when there were no medium-sized multi-purpose venues in the St. Louis area.

The arena can seat more than more than 6,000 for half-house concerts and more than 11,000 for full concerts. The arena has been used by a number of hockey, soccer, indoor football and basketball teams, and a venue for circuses, ice shows, trade shows and graduations.

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